There are at least 25 million people in America who suffer from asthma or 1 in 13 Americans, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. This is why it’s not uncommon for American households to have a nebulizer handy at home and find ways to learn how to use a nebulizer without medication.
What is a Nebulizer?
A nebulizer is a type of portable machine that can be used in both home and medical settings to administer medication directly to the lungs. A nebulizer machine is used mostly by people who suffer from asthma and other respiratory conditions. It works by turning liquid medicine into a mist that the patient can easily inhale using a mouthpiece or face mask.
Medication administered through a nebulizer has a faster effect because it goes straight to the lungs as compared to oral medications that take time to get absorbed by the respiratory system.
Doctors usually recommend having a nebulizer for at home for patients with asthma, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Nebulizers are so in demand around the world that the nebulizer market is expected to be worth $1.4 billion by 2026.
What Medications are Typically Used With a Nebulizer?
Depending on the patient’s condition, these are some of the common medications used with a compressor nebulizer:
- These are commonly prescribed for patients suffering from severe respiratory infections or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Commonly prescribed for patients with allergies and asthma, bronchodilators work by opening the airways to improve breathing.
- Sterile saline solution: There are times when a doctor prescribes a sterile saline solution to be used with the best portable nebulizer to help loosen up secretions and open the airways.
What are the Different Types of Nebulizers?
Although they may look similar, nebulizers actually come in three types. Ultrasonic nebulizers work by using high frequency vibrations to create aerosol from the medication, so it’s easily delivered to the lungs.
Jet nebulizers are the most common and they use compressed gas to make an aerosol. Mesh nebulizers, on the other hand, form aerosol using a very fine mesh. Since they produce the smallest particles, mesh nebulizers are also the most expensive.
Can You Use a Nebulizer Without Medication?
Although it’s not always recommended, there are times when you can use a nebulizer without medication.
For instance, if you’re travelling or if you ran out of medication at home and you don’t have a way of buying one any time soon, you can use water instead to create a mist that will offer some relief from allergies or asthma attacks.
A sterile saline solution is your best option for this, but you can also use purified tap or bottled water if that’s what’s available.
How to Use a Nebulizer Without Medication?
Using your nebulizer without medication is just like using it with one. Wash your hands with soap and water before handling the different parts of your nebulizer.
Instead of medication, pour a sufficient amount of sterile saline solution or purified water in the nebulizer cup. Don’t put too much water to keep it from spilling once you turn the nebulizer machine on.
Put the mask or mouthpiece above the nebulizer cup and connect the tubing to the aerosol compressor. Switch on the compressor to make sure that it’s working properly. If you see a mist coming out of the mouthpiece or mask, then you’re ready to use it.
Let the patient sit up straight on a chair or on the bedside, or if you’re treating a child, you can let him sit on your lap. Put on the mask or mouthpiece and make sure that it’s completely sealed to allow the mist to enter the lungs.
Let the patient take slow, deep breaths while nebulizing to get enough of the mist. You can continue nebulizing until there’s no mist coming out of the mouthpiece or mask anymore.
How to Take Care of a Nebulizer
It’s very important to know how to maintain even the best portable nebulizer to make sure that it lasts long. You should also clean and disinfect your nebulizer regularly to prevent any form of infection. To care for your nebulizer, here are a few tips that you can follow:
Wash, Wipe and Dry the Nebulizer Parts
This is especially important for the nebulizer cup where medication or excess water can stick and cause damages in the long run.
After each session, make sure to rinse the nebulizer cup with warm water and let it air dry. You should also do the same for your mask or mouthpiece and if possible, allocate one mask or mouthpiece per person who uses a nebulizer in your house. Roll the compressor tubing properly to avoid kinks and breaks.
Disinfect Your Equipment Regularly
If you use your nebulizer often, it’s important to disinfect it every three days with disinfectant solution or water and vinegar solution to keep bacteria away that could cause infections.
You can make a homemade disinfectant by simply mixing ½ cup of white vinegar with 1 ½ cups of water. Soak the nebulizer cup, mask and mouthpiece for about 20 minutes and rinse it well, after which you can let it air dry on a paper towel.
It’s also very important to store your nebulizer machine properly by keeping it away from direct sunlight. Read the manufacturer’s instructions on proper storage to make sure that you’re storing your machine properly. You should also cover the compressor with a clean cloth if you’re not using the machine to protect it from dust and dirt.
With more people using nebulizers these days, it’s very important to learn how to use a nebulizer without medication because it will surely come handy at some point.